Things We Learn Too Late

Things We Learn Too Late

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published June 2021

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During 2020, many of you had time to reflect on life, work, friends, family, and things that were important or not. Because you had time to think, some of you made significant changes. Here are a few of those reflections.

  • Everything is temporary

         Board members are temporary. Board decisions could be temporary until the next board takes over. Roof leaks are temporary. Invasions of blind mosquitoes and caterpillars are temporary. Management is temporary—wait until the board changes and management is likely to change. Even laws seem temporary; just wait until the next legislative session and something will change again. For instance, throughout the years our legislators can’t decide what to call our owners. Sometimes they say “owners” or “members” or “membership,” and then they throw in the term “voting interests.” While there is reasoning behind using the term “voting interests,” our owners and most managers don’t know the reason. Recalled condominium board members have five days within which to return any official records in their possession—no, wait—is it ten? And then the legislators spend precious time changing the statute wording “shall” and “must” to “will.”

  • Life isn’t fair

         One manager reports the following: Yesterday morning for over an hour I was dragged around the property by ladies who told me how bad the landscaping looked. Words like awful, tragic, completely unacceptable, and hideous were thrown around. At the end of the day, another owner’s son who had not been on the property for more than a year called to tell us that the son said the property looked “absolutely amazing”—that the landscaping is nicer than he has ever seen here. No one is emotionally stable and strong enough to handle that kind of swing in the course of one day. No matter what they pay managers, it is not enough.

  • Family matters more than friends

         It is hard to make family members a priority in your life. You have demands at work that take up your time. Some people have better boundaries than others and can say “no” to those demands that are not urgent or important. It is hard to put the telephone down and turn off the computer and spend time after work talking with family members. Sometimes it’s easier to be with friends and colleagues because they see a different side of your personality. Family knows the real you. Friends will likely agree with you and compliment you more than family members. Family members need to remember to be supportive and complimentary of each other. Granted, it seems every family has at least one odd, weird, goofy, mentally unstable, or estranged member. So, if that leaves you with no family members, friends will matter.

  • Others treat you the way you treat yourself

    This is good to remember as long as you treat yourself nicely. Be sure the thoughts about yourself that go around in your brain all day long are mostly positive. Give yourself a break when you make a mistake. Most mistakes are not as serious as an amputation and can be corrected. Be sure you have set aside time for yourself. Make a date with yourself and keep it. When was the last time you had a vacation? Or at least a couple of days off work? When was the last time you had a big belly laugh?

  • Beneath anger there is always fear

         Fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined.” Children learn to use anger to control parents, teachers, and their friends. Soon it becomes a habitual reaction to life’s circumstances. Angry people are afraid. They will deny it, but they are. Fear drives anger. It is the fear of not being in charge and fear of the unknown. It is a distrust of others. The angry child grows up and moves into your community not knowing any other way to be heard than to yell and pitch a fit. This angry adult does not know how to listen or negotiate but somehow gets elected to the board of directors. All discussions or decisions made by the board are now a challenge to him. Angry people need to win and try to do so with intimidation and threats. Sometimes the threats result in assault. And as if that isn’t enough, aging, medication, and dementia make matters worse.

  • Happiness is a choice and requires hard work

         Do you know some people who are just happy? They are pleasant to be around. You feel good after spending time with them. Happy people see the good in life. Unhappy people see everything that is wrong with themselves, others, and life. We call them VDPs—Very Draining People. It’s okay to limit your time with them. Remember that unhappy people are probably not really friends. They fall more into the “ministry” category. They are needy. These are people who might think you are friends, but the relationship is not reciprocal. These relationships have a “giver” and a “taker,” and the roles are never reversed. These are not real friends, so limit your time with them.

  • A lifetime isn’t as long as you think

         This seems to be truer every year. While some days and weeks seem to drag on for years, the years seem to fly by like a day. Wasn’t it just yesterday you were much younger than you are today? You ask yourself, “When did I get this old?” Then remember what happened in 2020—total lock down? No one could have predicted that turn of events. Those CAM applicants who put off taking their state exams found out the DBPR would not grant them any mercy if their Certificates of Completion expired. They found out that 12-month window of opportunity went by in the blink of an eye. There is a popular slogan, “Just do it.” We should add to that—Just Do It Now!

  • The biggest risk is not taking any risk

         One aging mother was reflecting back on her life and told her daughter, “I wish I had taken more risks.” No need to say more.

  • You played it too safe

         This is similar to not taking a risk. Most of us regret things we never did or tried. Go ahead and change jobs; start your own company; repair a relationship; take a trip; go to school; create a bucket list and work on it! 

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Florida CAM Schools

     Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM at For more information, contact, call (352) 326-8365, or visit